Re “Make Fun of Everything” [March 24]: Coincidentally, we organized the same kind of edgy comic performances of handicapped persons in our city. One of them was a stand-up comedy by two guys, in which a real schizophrenic patient complained about voices of God in his head,
and alongside him was a wheelchaired muscular-dystrophy patient feeding satirical comments on the complaints point by point with a robotic-sounding artificial larynx. There was an audition for the show beforehand, and we received scores of candidates. As you said, they were telling us “Go for it, we can take it.”
In literate Kerala state in India we have an art form that goes back centuries: chakyar koothu. The artist freely criticizes both the king and the commoner, no offense meant or taken. The language used is Malayalam, and it is still popular. Stand-up comedy is nothing new.
Let’s Talk About Sex
Re “Put the Sex Back in Sex Ed” [March 24]: Camille Paglia is right that a standardized curriculum is needed for sex education in public schools, but middle school is way too late to start. Introducing sex ed as a new topic as the hormones of puberty rage leads to a self-consciousness that is not conducive to learning and open discussion. Better to make the subject routine from first grade. Add age-appropriate topics year by year, taught by the classroom teacher.
Paglia’s article should be on every school’s notice board in the land. Pupils are there to be educated, not indoctrinated. If teachers forgot their ideology and concentrated on teaching, everybody would be better off.
Re “Cook With the Whole Farm” [March 24]: This is another example of a modern reinvention of the wheel. The challenge is to drastically reduce animal-derived foods, highly packaged, refined and processed foods and the out-of-season fresh produce while maintaining a naturally flavorsome diet. The well-acknowledged healthy, pro-environment and low-budget traditional Mediterranean diet addresses these issues in a sustainable way.
Caught in the Web
Re “Let Kids Run Wild Online” [March 24]: In South Korea, practically everyone has either a laptop or a mobile phone. People would spend hour after hour surfing the Internet, watching videos or playing games in isolation, especially teenagers and children. This has fast become an addiction beyond recognition and imagination. At a tender age, kids can be easily misled. That is where parents could come in to offer guidance or advice.
Re “Bring The Doctor to You” [March 24]: Yves Béhar would have us believe a rational advance in managing chronic illness is wearing mobile technology to constantly monitor our health. If only it were that easy. The enduring sensible concepts are to eat less and exercise more. Sadly, that’s a lot more difficult than carrying around more electronic gear.
East London, South Africa
Down the Road
Re “China’s Road Show” [March 24]: While Michael Schuman spent the last one-third of the article explicating the damages caused by the Chinese car culture, he also spent two-thirds explicating the car culture in its glorious details. As a whole, the article provides more social cachet to the Chinese to think car ownership is good for them. The social argument for the car culture in China has to be argued against effectively with another social argument, not with environmentalism, health or safety. Here is my suggestion: do not cut and paste the American car culture directly to China. Find your own way to feel proud.
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